They don’t seem to be so common now, but just a few years ago, newspapers were falling over themselves to give away free CDs. Most of them were compilations, built around either decades or genres, or sometimes both – “Soul Hits of the 60s”, that kind of thing. The duplication of the mostly cheesy songs between these CDs was huge, and as there were literally hundreds of the blessed things, you could end up with the same tracks many times over, destined never to be listened to.
Occasionally, though, they’d give away proper albums or EPs by single artists or bands. And not just dreck, either – some of them were absolute classics. Some of the ones that I know of are listed below, but if you didn’t know about them, and they’d somehow managed to pass you by unnoticed, all is not lost. They often turn up in charity shops – I volunteer in one, and my role is to sort out the donations of music and video. (I know – dirty work, but someone has to do it…)
I have about forty of them and they form a significant part of my music collection. Some of the best of the ones that I have come across include:
- “Tubular Bells” – Mike Oldfield
- “Strange Days” – The Doors
- “Oxygene” – Jean-Michel Jarre
- “iSelect” – David Bowie
- A Roxy Music Greatest Hits collection
- Peter Gabriel – this one is particularly wonderful
- Crosby, Stills and Nash
- Carly Simon
- Art Garfunkel – at least two different ones
- “Live in Los Angeles” and “Memory Almost Full” – Paul McCartney
- Elton John – a double CD set of Elton John’s legendary covers from early in his career
- The Everly Brothers – a double CD set of their hits
- John Lennon
- plus many, many more by artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Ray Davies, Madness, Simple Minds, Paul Weller, Dusty Springfield, Simply Red, Badly Drawn Boy, David Gray, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye – the list goes on and on. But this far from an exhaustive list.
Just pop into the charity shops in your area and have a look. You may just be in luck! Most charity shops charge a pittance for these CDs; as they were give-aways to start with, many charity shops don’t “charge” for them, but ask for a donation instead.
The nice thing about buying them this way is that, as most of them were given away by some of the crappier newspapers, you don’t have to actually buy the papers that gave them away. It is slightly disappointing that it was the rags that tended to issue them.
You can find fairly exhaustive lists of these CDs at http://www.discogs.com/ – just search for the name of the newspaper, and the list of releases will be shown under a “pseudo-label”. Here, for example, is the Daily Mail’s list of releases at discogs.com.
There were many, if not more, full-movie DVDs given away. I’ll post about this sometime soon.